Title: Chill: the space between us (Part 1)
Fandom: Fruits Basket
Pairing: Souma Hatori / Souma Ayame
Word Count: 2500+
Warnings: Lime and Yaoi content (would that put you off though?)
Prompts: For 10_passions, theme #8 - "the space between us"; wordclaim50, Prompt 003 - Angst; and the Blanket Scenario Challenge one_blanket
keiichi-kun © 2006
DISCLAIMERS: Fruits Basket and its characters are copyright to Natsuki Takaya, no infringement is intended through the publishing of this fan work. I do not profit from this piece of fiction, as this is for my own selfish enjoyment, as well as for the fans who appreciate it.
WARNING: This story contains lime and copious amount of yaoi. Run away if any or both material offends you. Otherwise, enjoy and let me know what you think! Feedbacks will be loved~
He supposed he could blame it on Momiji—it had been his brilliant idea to go on a ski trip holiday after all, which brought them here in the first place. Although he suspected it was probably just one of the kid’s infamous sporadic whims, the Rabbit would not have thought about the weather, so perhaps Hatori could forgive him… a little.
Then again, there was also his other cousin, Shigure, who might just as well be equally guilty; with what the Dog dropping hints that the city had been a tad bit warm lately. (It was the middle of January, how *could* it possibly be warm?). While he could not shake away the feeling that that darn Dog had something to do with this current situation too, was beyond him, his instincts were usually right when it comes to Shigure anyway. Whatever the Dog’s twisted intention was for bringing them here, Hatori made a mental note to wring his best friend’s neck once they get out of this cabin.
Alive, he hoped. There was no need to risk a look outside, he could perfectly hear the mad howls of the blizzard, and right now, it seemed too stubborn to let up any time soon. Perfect.
Lighting up, he shifted a cautious glance at the sleeping form on the other side of the room. A thick layer of winter clothing and one dusty, old blanket wrapped Ayame’s lithe form, covering every inch of his body, as he lay on the make-shift bedding. Even his elegant, pale visage was not to be seen, the only exposed part of him was the platinum-silver hair which had hung out dully beside him. He’d been shivering earlier, almost delirious as inevitable for having been cursed with the spirit of the cold-blooded Snake, as much as being susceptible to extreme ranges of temperature. When he transformed, there was little Hatori could do, other than place the silver snake under the musty blanket that he had found. Hatori was glad that, at least the Hebi had now changed back into his human form.
Thankfully, the chills seemed to have subsided a little as well, and that Ayame was probably asleep, judging from the even rise and fall of his body, however slight. He kept a vigilant eye on him, nonetheless, should Ayame break into shivers again, or worse, transform—the Hebi was less resilient to the cold in his human form, though staying in his Zodiac form for far too long would also be quite hazardous. For that, Hatori was relieved that the blanket provided enough heat to prevent Ayame from transforming.
Hatori kept his distance from his sleeping friend, however, not so much emotionally as physically. He couldn’t help feeling guilty for their current condition, Hatori knew that he was partly at fault too. He should have been more responsible than having let Ayame follow him when he had stepped outside to rid his impending headache with nicotine and a short walk into the snow-covered forest, instead of persuading his friend to stay in the warmth and safety of the others back at the Souma villa. It was very much un-like him, but not all too surprising.
Perhaps the weight of overwhelming responsibilities of the past few weeks had nagged on Hatori too much and it was what had pushed in him to that sudden urge to rebel. It felt rather good somehow, he had to admit. But the need to blame someone or something, outside himself, was more tempting at the moment. So he supposed he could blame it on Mother Nature for now. And Shigure.
He vaguely heard the low grumble coming from the lump of cloth across him, too absorb in his thoughts of revenge and survival to notice Ayame rousing slowly to wake. Hatori flicked ash from his cigarette as he continued to stare off into space.
“Tori…san?” Ayame had now gained a bit of consciousness, albeit slightly disoriented, and was stirring out of the layers of clothes and blanket that warmed him, his baritone voice a little scratchy as he called out for his friend. “Tori-san…”
“I’m right here, Aya.” Hatori’s voice croaked; his mouth dry. He was not aware of the cold that was catching up to him too; and with nothing but his winter clothes on, it wasn’t entirely adequate in providing him with much needed warmth.
“Tori-san, what are you doing?” Concern was immediately apparent in Ayame’s tone, near-panic shone in his amber-honeyed eyes as he looked at Hatori’s direction. “Why are you all the way there?”
Without as much as a second thought, not even waiting for a reply from Hatori, Ayame got up, which much effort, and was now striding across the room towards Hatori, with the blanket still wrapped tightly around him. He hissed when his naked feet touched the icy-cold floor, but immediately ignored the biting pain as he made his way to his friend.
“Tori-san.” Ayame’s baritone voice was reproachful; a look of determination was clear in the pools of his amber eyes. Hatori winced.
If not for lack of muscle movement on most parts of his body, nor the irritating dryness that scalded his throat, Hatori would’ve instantly admonish Ayame and scoop him back into the bedding. However, his limbs seemed to be frozen, and the light from his cigarette—his other source of heat, was now long gone. It took a lot of effort to even open his mouth.
“Ayame, no. Go back to the futon.” He willed his voice to sound stern, despite his teeth chattering.
“But Tori-san, you’ll freeze to death here if you don’t move!” Ayame tried to match his expression, a silent plea swimming in the undertones.
Hatori would’ve rolled his eyes and ignored him had this been any other situation where Ayame was acting out the drama queen to get what he wanted. But there was truth in what he said that Hatori couldn’t just disregard. His clothes weren’t enough to keep him from the cold; the bottom part was already wet from sitting on the frosty wooden floor way too long. Whether it was from the bitter cold or his own stubbornness that he didn’t even budge, he was not exactly sure, but it appeared that Ayame was now standing in front of him and had taken a firm hold of his arm instead, and began dragging Hatori with him back to the futon.
“I said no, Aya. Go back.” Hatori thought he should commend himself for still having energy to object. Waving off the arm that Ayame had grabbed, he snapped, “I’m the doctor here; your well-being is more of my concern right now than my health.” Hatori glowered at his friend as if to emphasize his resolve. But Ayame only glared back. Hatori glared harder. He knew it was a battle of wills, and ever since, Ayame had only listened to him, so his victory was absolute.
Except, Ayame did the unthinkable this time: raising one shivering arm, he slapped Hatori. Hard. That sure brought back a feeling to some of Hatori’s nerves… and then some.
“And if you die, who will take care of my health then?!”
Ayame’s eyes brimmed to near-tears as he bit his lower lip. Their roles were now definitely switched, and Hatori realized that he had lost. Stubborn though as he was, he allowed Ayame to haul him towards the futon and underneath the blanket with him, without another protest.
There was another reason why he chose to keep his distance from Ayame, although he did not consider it necessary to wallow on such thoughts when they were thrown in such a precarious situation as this. Liked it or not, however, Hatori was forced to remember when he felt Ayame’s bare torso brush momentarily against him as the slender man shifted on his side. Through the heavy layer of winter clothing that he still had on, Hatori felt his skin tingle and grow hot at the brief contact.
“It’s okay, Tori-san,” Ayame’s voice sounded muffled, trying to conceal his anxiety, “You can remove your clothes. I won’t… look. I promise.”
Though why the usually bold and overconfident Snake was suddenly shy around him, Hatori could not, for the life of him, figure out. Well, okay, maybe he could, but Ayame has always been open and honest about his adoration towards Hatori, not missing a chance to remind him in both small and big ways: a simple touch, a suffocating hug, a basket of muffins and tea, a text message, an animated phone call, a laugh, a smile... He was next to expecting Ayame to jump on him the moment they got into the blanket together. Of which the other man obviously didn’t.
Hatori couldn’t help feel… disappointed, somehow. And he frowned at himself at this.
Distracting himself instead, before frustration and confusion overwhelm him any further, by taking time to remove every piece of cold, wet clothing and then placing it on top of the blanket to add to the pile of garments that would help them keep warm. When his shoulder accidentally bumped onto his companion’s smooth back, he felt Ayame immediately stiffen, and then purposefully moved away.
“It’s okay.” Ayame did not even allow a pause between their words, voice still muffled and unexpectedly soft, barely a whisper.
Hatori knew he didn’t want this. He did not like this, this ‘other’ side of Aya, suddenly unpredictable and withdrawn. It made him even more nervous than the ‘normal’, flamboyant and spontaneous Ayame—that, at least, he could almost predict what was coming; even though most of the time, it was nothing more than a ruse to cover up the Hebi’s true emotions. Yuki had been right about his brother: Ayame was no fool.
Hatori lay flat on his back, one arm pillowing his head. There was but half an arm’s length of space between them; the blanket had been wide enough to cover them both, and he could feel the small amount of heat emanating from the body that lay inches from him, turned opposite from him, distant. Hatori found himself uncomfortable in that position. Uncertainty, between wanting to hold that body closer to him-for heat, he reminded himself-and the consequences behind that action, overwhelmed him.
But seriously, were damned feelings far more important than their survival at the moment? Common sense finally knocked into his head. Or at least, part of it, he thought.
Scoffing, he rolled to the side and with one swift movement, unceremoniously threw an arm around Ayame’s waist, ultimately pulling him against his chest, then burying his face onto damp, silky tresses between neck and shoulder, inhaling the faint scent of Ayame’s herbal shampoo.
“T-Tori-san!...” Ayame gasped in surprise, and Hatori felt him once again shiver and stiffen at skin contact, instinctively wriggling out of his hold. “N-nande-?”
“Hush. Keep still, Ayame,” he chided, grinning slightly at his success when the other man stopped fidgeting at once, relaxing a little in his embrace. Hatori tightened his hold a bit more, and sighed in content. When Ayame lay still, he had kept only his back pressed onto Hatori’s chest, blatantly avoiding any contact between their lower bodies. Hatori could presume an idea as to why, but at that moment, he couldn’t decide whether to be upset or amused about it.
With this close proximity, it allowed them a chance for survival by feeding off each other’s body heat; and at the same time, finally deal with those emotions and unspoken words that hung between them in uncomfortable silence ever since they got into the blanket together. He would try, anyway. Even if Ayame wasn’t up for it.
“Aya, what’s wrong?” Hatori was not one to usually start conversations; especially if in this case, he was to converse with one of the most garrulous people he knew.
“Nothing, Tori-san.” Once again, Ayame was quick to answer, and this only confirmed Hatori’s suspicions that something indeed was up, and one that the Hebi was not keen into telling him. If anything else, Hatori would’ve let it go, except his friend’s behavior bothered him endlessly, and the fact that they were stuck in that old cabin--and would probably be stuck for a long while, Hatori decided to squeeze it out of his friend, as much as he can.
“You know you can always tell me.” Hatori spoke softly into Ayame’s ear, in a vague attempt to ease out the comfortable, familiar presence he knew.
“I know, Tori-san. I know.” There was no mistaking the sadness that tinged Ayame’s deep baritone, but just as before, he tried to hide it, this time by feigning a yawn. “I just feel so sleepy, that’s all.”
Hatori sighed. “Aya…” He wouldn’t allow Ayame to win the stubbornness battle for the second time around that day. But before he could insist further, Ayame had cut him off with a deep sigh of his own, murmuring a silent protest of his own.
“This is not necessary, you know.” His voice was uncharacteristically melancholy and detached; he didn’t sound like Ayame at all, and truthfully it was rather unsettling.
“You said so yourself, I need to take care of you and I would not be able to do that if I die.” He thought he might have sounded a bit haughty, but how else would he be able to get his point across? Being friendly didn’t seem to be working at the moment.
“I know,” Ayame responded in a quiet voice, “I’m sorry about that. I shouldn’t have said that. It was… selfish.”
That last statement was laden with such deep emotion that for once, Hatori did not seem to know how to answer back, as much as he wanted to. Because for one, he was utterly surprised at Ayame’s sudden modesty and change of behavior; and frankly, he didn’t know what to say. Instead, he pulled Ayame closer to him, if it were any more possible, idly rubbing cold hands along the other man’s arm and torso.
“No. No…” He whispered, half-dreading, half-hoping that Ayame might hear him. Hatori fell into the Hebi’s scent surrounding him, dulling his senses as he wondered distractedly how, when and why their relationship all of a sudden became so… misconstrued.
Hatori let out a long sigh. It was going to be a rough night.
AUTHOR’S NOTES: Special thanks to Saku-Rose and Smokey for the beta and the encouragement, as well as to a bunch of old Lifehouse songs in my player.
This is for the precious person who continually inspires me to write.
This fan fiction is copyright 2006 to © keiichi-kun. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of the author.